Your dog is your best friend, and you want her to have every opportunity to be happy and healthy. This includes giving Fido lots of opportunities to play and exercise as she needs. However, you may live in an area that doesn’t offer a nearby dog park, or you may not feel safe in large crowds (thanks, COVID!).
Have no fear – you can set up everything in your own backyard so that your fur baby can play safely right at home.
What do I need to arrange a play area for my dog at home?
Two elements are at play here – first, consider what your dog likes as far as play goes. Second, you’ll want to incorporate the best invisible dog fence for your yard so that your pet is protected in her area.
Sit down and draw up a plan for what you’d like in your backyard play area – considering your budget as you do so as well as the size of your backyard area. Does your dog like to climb or does she like to play tug of war? What will you use as a means of water supply? Is the backyard shaded? All of these questions (and their answers) should be factored in when you are creating your own DIY dog play yard.
You might be surprised that many of the play areas in a DIY dog play yard are rather easy to create. You can use materials around your home for some items; other play areas can be constructed from low-cost materials too.
Okay, now that I know what my play area will include, what do I need to consider in the way of a fence?
Perhaps the best way to do this is to install an invisible fence. If you took your dog to the dog park, you’re going to find a physical fence surrounding the area. This is, of course, to keep pups from running away from their owners while unleashed at the dog park.
You may opt for an electric invisible fence. Now, not all invisible fences work by shocking your dog away from the boundary. More modern electric fences work by emitting a warning sound that will often prevent Fido from going outside your proscribed boundaries. However, if you have a more headstrong pup, very close proximity to the electric fence’s boundary could result in a static electric shock.
You could spend a great deal of your budget on an invisible fence. A wireless dog fence runs on a base station or uses GPS, and although you don’t have to worry about digging into your ground to set up the fence, the best GPS dog fence systems are rather pricey. However, you can typically take the GPS dog fence with you on vacation, and you won’t spend hours on installation. Another consideration is the size of your dog; many GPS wireless systems aren’t made for smaller dogs. That’s not to say there are no GPS wireless systems for smaller dogs; just be sure to look at the recommended size on the wireless system before purchasing.
What else can I do to make my dog’s play area safe and clean?
You might not be aware that there are “pooper scoopers” on duty at your local dog park. It only makes sense to install something similar in Fido’s backyard dog park. There are actually a wide variety of dog pooper scooper products on the market to choose from. In addition to selecting the best dog pooper scooper for your yard, you may want to look into the increasingly popular in-ground dog waste disposal system. You’ll need to manually scoop the waste, but the in-ground disposal system will take care of decomposition and your yard will be waste-free! Other in-ground systems will connect to your existing sewer system to flush out any dog waste – simply dispose of the waste in the above-ground container and worry no more.
There are also above-ground models that utilize digestive enzymes to decompose the poop. Each disposal system, whether it is an above-ground model or one that is in-ground, will need you to scoop then dispose of the waste properly.
What should I do to prepare my backyard for the transformation to a play area?
You’ll want to make sure there are no hazards hidden in your backyard as Fido is certain to find them! Be sure you aren’t storing any containers that may hold pesticides or other toxic chemicals. Look for any plants that could be poisonous to your dog as well. Finally, remove any sharp stones or stumps that could be harmful to your dog as she plays. You’ll also want to make sure to treat the area for ticks and fleas.
Once you’ve got the clean-up done, you can begin deciding where you want to place your obstacles for Fido.
What should I use for building materials? Do I need to buy pre-made equipment?
You might be surprised to learn that you can repurpose a few things in your backyard for your dog’s play area. Do you have an old pool laying around? The small, plastic, preformed pools make a great wading pool for pups in the backyard. Is there a sandpit already in the backyard? These make great places for Fido to dig and scratch.
Even if you don’t have formerly utilized children’s outdoor toys laying around, you can still pick up some kids’ outdoor toys in order to fix up your dog’s backyard playing area. We’ve already mentioned the kiddie pools and sandpits. Consider the collapsible tunnels many children play in. These make great tunnels for a dog’s agility course .
Another great option for building your dog’s perfect outdoor play place is to utilize wood from pallets. Many big box stores will let you pick up pallets for free or cheap, and with just a handful of carpenter skills, you can put these items to work in your backyard dog park. You can dismantle a pallet and use the wood to create an A-frame obstacle for Fido to climb up and over. You can also use the wood from a few pallets to construct a makeshift dog house for Fido to rest in during the heat of the day.
PVC pipe is also great for constructing your dog park playground. You can use PVC pipes to construct agility poles. You can also bury a portion of the PVC pipe in the ground and attach a rope toy to the pipe. Your dog can play tug of war without your presence.
Believe it or not, there ARE kits on the market for creating an agility course for your dog. Many of them are quite pricey, but some are reasonably priced. If you’ll need to purchase lumber or other expensive building materials, a pre-made kit could actually save you money when building the backyard park obstacles.
What are some suggestions for my dog’s backyard dog park?
First, the bamboo slalom is great for working dog breeds who have already shown interest in the agility course at your local dog park. Another name for the slalom is “weave poles,” and, if you’ve ever seen dogs participate in professional dog shows, then you’ve seen them quickly weave between four or five poles. A low-cost way to make this obstacle is to take a flat piece of pallet wood (you may have to join two together; it’s imperative that the poles be about two feet apart) and use bamboo shoots to make the poles. Drive the bamboo shoots into the pallet wood. (NOTE: Your dog will need to be taught how to navigate this obstacle. If you prefer, you can use bamboo shoots placed directly in the ground too.
Next, using PVC pipe to create a tether pull is a great way to engage her in a game of tug of war with or without your being present. Make sure your PVC pipe is buried six inches down in the ground so that it can’t easily be pulled up as your pup plays. Thread a strong piece of twine through the pipe, then attach a ball or a rope toy to the twine. (NOTE: If you use a ball, make sure that you have drilled a hole in the ball and tie a knot at the end of the twine so that your dog can’t easily pull the ball off the twine. You’ll also want to make sure the rope toy or ball is about one foot above the ground.
Another fun obstacle you can make using PVC pipe is a hurdle. You’ll need to cut the pipe and put it together to make a hurdle. Some pet parents will take laundry baskets, turn them upside down, and rest the PVC pipe on the tops of the baskets so that Fido can jump over the hurdle.
You can use pallet wood or some sturdy plywood to create the A-frame climbing obstacle. You’ll want to use 2 x 4 pallet wood to make the sides sturdy as well. You’ll also need to place a few wooden rungs about six inches apart on both sides of the A-frame. This is another obstacle your dog will need some training on, but, once he’s acclimated to what the A-frame can do, he will learn to play alone.
When you get ready to create your backyard dog park, consider your dog’s preferences, both the obstacle course as well as ways to keep the area clean, and, most of all, your budget. Using a few items you already have (or can easily access), you can make a fun space for your dog to play, right in your own backyard.
What do I need to know regarding the following:
Invisible Dog Fences
To keep your dog safe, you’ll need to install a fence around his play area. Often, it’s cheaper – and safer – to install an invisible dog fence. Many dog fences today are wireless, relying on GPS or a cellular network, to keep your dog in her safe space. Invisible dog fences range in price from $300 to over $1000. Know how much area you’ll need to safely provide boundaries for your dog when choosing an invisible dog fence.
GPS Dog Fences
GPS dog fences still use tones and some stimulation to keep your dog from leaving your backyard boundaries, but they run on satellite positioning rather than sensors between the collar and an underground fence. GPS fences may be portable, but you may have to reprogram the GPS every time you take Fido out to play in the backyard. Also, the positioning of your yard and any tall buildings or even the weather can affect the efficiency of your GPS dog fence.
Keep in mind that invisible fences – both the more traditional kind as well as the GPS fence – will not keep other dogs from coming into your dog’s space. We recommend you never leave Fido unattended as he plays in his backyard dog park.
GPS Dog Tracker Collars
GPS dog tracker collars work similarly to a GPS dog fence; however, they are more along the lines of trackers rather than a means of keeping your dog within the boundaries. The best GPS dog tracker collar will allow you to see exactly where your dog is, provide escape notifications, and even be used as an activity tracker. Often, an invisible fence or GPS dog fence is a better idea for actively keeping your dog inside your DIY dog park than the GPS dog tracker collar.
Electronic Dog Doors
Electronic dog doors can be added to your front or back door as a means of keeping your dog safe. This door interacts with microchips or sensors in your dog’s collar that allow the door to open specifically for your dog, and then the door locks itself once your dog is safely inside your house. The best electronic dog doors are considered energy efficient because they seal off and do not let the cool or warm air in your house out as a traditional dog door or dog flap might. Electronic dog doors are also great for your dog when you are away from home but Fido needs to go out to relieve himself. In the case of a dog park, Fido can use the electronic door to go out and play then return inside at will. This can keep him from becoming destructive due to separation anxiety.
You no longer need to worry about keeping doggy bags handy when you have a “pooper scooper” system installed on your property. Some can be installed to work with your own septic system, while others may be above-ground but allow you to add digestive enzymes that will help the waste to quickly decompose. Having a pooper scooper system in your dog’s play area will keep it clean and welcoming for Fido at playtime.